All Brad Richards did in his first game with the Dallas Stars was tie a franchise record with five assists. All he needs to do next is notch one point to continue his domination over the Nashville Predators.
Following his remarkable debut, Richards will try to extend his point streak over the Predators to eight games as they meet the Stars for the final time in the regular season on Saturday night in Dallas.
The 2004 Conn Smythe Trophy winner was acquired from Tampa Bay on Tuesday in a five-player deal, and he quickly made a good impression two nights later. Richards drew his first assist less than five minutes in, and added two more in each of the final two periods Thursday as Dallas won for the 13th time in 15 games, 7-4 over Chicago.
"It's a lot of fun to play with these guys," Richards said. "I just have to keep that excitement level up and who knows what's going to happen."
|The Stars Brad Richards aims to extend his point streak over the Predators to eight games as the two Western Conference teams meet for the final time this season in Dallas on Saturday night. (AP Photo/Donna McWilliam)
He tied the franchise record shared by Murray Oliver (1971) and Larry Murphy (1989).
Richards, who had 33 assists before Thursday, also set up linemate Niklas Hagman three times for his first NHL hat trick.
"He's really good with the puck," said Hagman, who has 25 goals. "For me, the way that he plays works."
While with the Lightning, Richards failed to register a point in his first game against Nashville in 2001. Since then, he's had three goals and eight assists in his last seven appearances versus the Predators. Richards scored the tying goal and assisted on the one in overtime that gave the Lightning a 2-1 win over Nashville on Feb. 7.
Dallas (41-22-5) was limited to one goal while losing its first two games against Nashville (32-25-8) this season. Last Saturday, though, Mike Ribeiro and Brenden Morrow each had four points in the Stars' 6-3 win over the Predators. Loui Eriksson also scored twice, and has six goals in his last four games.
Nashville comes in having allowed 16 goals during a three-game losing streak (0-2-1). On Wednesday, the Predators gave up a season-high for goals in an 8-4 defeat at Buffalo that kicked off a six-game road trip.
Jason Arnott scored twice, and David Legwand and newly acquired Jan Hlavac added one each for the Predators, who are tied with Colorado for the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot - one point ahead of 10th-place Phoenix.
Chris Mason started in goal and stopped just 14 of 19 shots before being replaced midway through the second period. Dan Ellis faced 14 shots the rest of the way, stopping 11.
"It's quite frustrating because the urgency has got to be there," Predators coach Barry Trotz said. "We blew a chance to get points. By the time we get home, we might be out of the playoffs."
Nashville also will visit Edmonton, Vancouver and Calgary before ending the trip in Detroit on March 9.
Arnott, who played with Dallas from 2002-06, has six goals and seven assists in his last nine games. He's the Predators' leading scorer with 61 points, and is tied with Alexander Radulov for the team lead with 24 goals.
Ellis, drafted by the Stars in 2000, blanked his former team the first time he faced them on Dec. 31, turning aside 22 shots in a 1-0 road win. He didn't fare nearly as well against them last week, leaving after allowing four goals in two periods.
The Predators have alternated wins and losses in their last six trips to Dallas.